When the average employee has only 24 minutes per week to learn, there is an increasing demand for courses to be delivered in manageable, easy to access formats.
As part of this, course assessment is being redefined with micro-credentials – the alternative to traditional qualifications such as degrees or diplomas.
Deakin University defines micro-credentials as mini-qualifications that demonstrate skills, knowledge and/or experience in a given subject area or capability.
They are already in use across the education sector, including online learning, universities, and vocational colleges, and are set to be the future of upskilling in the workplace.
How are micro-credentials different?
Micro-credentials tend to be less detailed than traditional degrees or diplomas, although they are flexible and can include a wider breadth of learning material.
A key difference is that they are used to accredit learning for both hard and soft skills. For example, you could have a micro-credential in a broad topic such as ‘data science’, or in a specific soft skill like ‘effective workplace communication’.
Globally renowned industry analyser and research analyst, Josh Bersin, describes a new paradigm emerging in corporate training. He labels this, ‘learning in the flow of work’, which means presenting employees with opportunities to learn through platforms they are already using.
The advent of micro-credentials is paving the way for such advances, as they enable organisations to incentivise workplace learning. People are often naturally motivated to learn, but the promise of recognition beyond their current role makes participating all the more worthwhile.
The benefits of micro-credentials for businesses and employees
With micro-credentials already being used across the education sector, there is no doubt that they will continue to shape the future of learning.
The following points explain why micro-credentials are making such an impact, and how they could help to upskill your workforce more effectively:
1. Extension of personalised learning
Personalising learning is the difference between content being engaging or boring. Content needs to address an individual’s learning needs as accurately as possible, and advancing technology is helping to simplify this process.
As micro-credentials are often less detailed, it becomes easier to tailor learning to an individual employee’s needs.
Learning content that was once part of a longer course can be made available separately, meaning participants can engage with the material they need.
This avoids the issue of employees wasting time completing learning material which is either irrelevant to them or unnecessarily time consuming, while still gaining recognition for their efforts.
2. Recognition for hard and soft skills
As microcredentials are often more succinct than their traditional counterparts, there is greater flexibility in the content.
Learners can develop hard skills specific to their roles and level of experience, and gain recognition for individual modules without having to complete a lengthy course.
They can also be recognised for developing soft skills, which are not acknowledged separately in many traditional courses.
Deloitte’s 2017 ‘Soft Skills for Business Success’ report predicted that two out of three jobs would be soft skill intensive by 2030.
The report goes on to explain that a workforce with a mix of skills is crucial for business success and prosperity.
With this in mind, a focus on soft skills is all the more important, and micro-credentials are a great way to upskill a workforce in this area.
Micro-credentials also create flexibility in the structure and delivery of workplace learning.
Course content can be designed from scratch and tailor-made for an organisation. Learning can also be delivered incrementally for employees to engage with at their own pace.
By offering micro-credentials, organisations are able to design and deliver bespoke learning experiences for their team members.
4. Employee engagement
Opportunities for ongoing learning and growth are important for employees to feel invested in the organisation they work for. Ultimately, human beings function best in environments which allow them to grow.
The simplified structure of micro-credentials makes workplace learning all the more accessible to employees, as they can complete a course in less time, while still gaining recognition for their efforts.
5. Address the widening skills gap
With the rapid pace of change in the digital age, there is a widening gap between the skills required in the workplace and the readiness of employees to perform their desired roles.
Micro-credentials are helping to address this as employees or job seekers can quickly learn the skills necessary for a current or prospective position, and gain long-term recognition for participating.
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